GW research team brings Zika virus vaccine clinical trial to Brazil site

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 11, 2017

The NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), a division of the National Institute of Health, has reportedly awarded funds worth Dollars 2 million to a team of researchers working at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) to conduct a Zika vaccine clinical trial in Brazil. The trial would, in totality, include 2,400 people across Puerto Rico, south USA, and Central & South America. A high-profile Zika epidemic swept through South and Central America a year ago and eventually led to several cases in the United States. The team plans to partner with the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz in Belo Horizonte & Hospital das Clínicas of Brazil to successfully register 100 people on whom clinical tests will be carried out. During the study, transmission of the virus will be monitored and additional volunteers may be signed up at sites with higher rates of infection.

"We are going into what is expected to be the transmission season in Brazil", Diemert said in the release.

The candidate, GLS-5700, is a synthetic vaccine that contains instructions for the host to develop an immune response against a Zika-specific antigen. However, their study suggested that a DNA vaccine could produce antibodies associated with Zika protection as well as T-cells in a well-tolerated platform. "This novel DNA vaccine was developed and implemented in just months via a platform that has advantages in temperature stability, storage, dose, and distribution compared to most traditional vaccines, making DNA vaccines an important tool to respond quickly to curb an emerging epidemic". Healthcare experts have claimed that the vaccine can be injected in the pregnant women without using the genetic material of the virus as it can pose a risk to the embryo.

Following the trial, if the vaccine is determined successful, the populations in these endemic areas will see the potential for better prevention against infection with the Zika virus.

Founded in 1824, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation's capital and is the 11th oldest in the country.

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